Sitting on top of Monte Serrat, 157 meters above sea level, this sanctuary affords a 3600 panorama of the entire city and partial view of the municipalities of São Vicente, Cubatão, Guarujá and Praia Grande. The statue of Nossa Senhora do Monte Serrat, patron saint of Santos, whose saint’s day is celebrated on September 8th, and the stories of her miracles are the big attractions here in the heart of the city. The chapel was built between 1598 and 1603, and access to the sanctuary is by funicular railway or by 415 steps, with 14 niches representing the Way of Sorrows.
Monte Serrrat received its name in 1604, by order of then governor Dom Francisco de Souza, a Spaniard devoted to Our Lady, patron saint of Barcelona, one year after the chapel was built. Up to then, it had been called Morro de São Jerônimo. It is said that in 1614, when Dutch pirate Joris von Spielbergen invaded the settlement, part of the population fled to the top of the hill. While attempting to follow them, the pirates were buried by the avalanche of earth and stones that fell from the mountain. The people considered this a miracle performed by Nossa Senhora do Monte Serrat, and she thus became the city’s patron saint.
The funicular railway opened in 1927 with the inauguration of the function room and restaurant on Monte Serrat. In addition to its terraces and lookout point, the property saw the opening of the Monte Serrat Casino in 1934, hosting such artists as Carmen Miranda, Francisco Alves and Sílvio Caldas until its closure in 1946, when President Gaspar Dutra banned gambling in Brazil. Restored in 1998, the building now offers a café and areas for social and cultural events.